Tuesday, June 18, 2024
HomeOpinionLettersTrinidad and Tobago has surrendered regional leadership

Trinidad and Tobago has surrendered regional leadership

Dear Sir:

On Saturday, Barbados’ prime minister Mia Mottley indicated that her country would not attend Tuesdays meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo since some CARICOM leaders were not invited. We have received unconfirmed reports that Trinidad and Tobago was not invited.

Mottley’s position, however, highlights Trinidad and Tobago diplomatic isolation, the surrender of our leadership role within CARICOM and the need for countries such as Barbados to pursue our interests in the global arena.

We are literally on CARICOM’s  B Team, with Barbados, Jamaica, Guyana, and even St Vincent and the Grenadines, [Trinidad and Tobago] with St Vincent and the Grenadines now holding a non-permanent seat on the Security Council as the presumptive CARICOM leaders.

It is an axiom of diplomacy that once a country is not seated at the table participating in discussions then it may very well find itself on the menu.

Currently, we are on the menu in global diplomacy. Whether it be our position on global financial watch lists, or the recipient of endless negative travel advisories, or continual downgrades by lending agencies, or multilateral, financial support for hosting Venezuelan refugees, or significant reductions in foreign direct investments, or reduced tourist arrivals; we are in an unenviable position within CARICOM and in this hemisphere.

Hapless Keith Rowley and his woefully incompetent foreign and CARICOM affairs minister, Dennis Moses and a totally demoralised foreign ministry are not up to the task of promoting Trinidad and Tobago interests globally.

While we pursue “dotish” ambitions to set up a mission in Qatar, we are leaving the Americans, Brazilians and others to reap the rewards of the energy bonanza in Guyana. We should be right there in Georgetown implementing a well thought out Guyanese policy. Instead, we are “pussyfooting” with the establishment of that most important mission.

Where are the comprehensive and well thought out initiatives to help develop Guyana’s energy sector to the mutual benefit of both countries? Where is the think tank? Which of our energy experts are doing the brain work? What are the short, medium and long-term policies?

We have literally surrendered our position as the energy capital of the region to Guyana. Jamaica is being positioned by the US as a regional energy hub. Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago closed its refinery, and now struggling to reopen.

So no one is managing our image abroad. Trinidad and Tobago was named the World’s 12th most dangerous country, by Business Insider. We rank alongside countries like Venezuela, Yemen, Jamaica and Columbia for the highest crime rates in the world.

Last year Jamaica’s economy grew by two percent. Grenada by 4.5 percent. St Vincent and the Grenadines by two percent. Trinidad and Tobago was 0.9 percent. Lord have mercy.

When Kamla Persad Bissessar was prime minister our country was the envy of the World. Chinese president Xi Jinping, months after being appointed, made us his first country to be visited in the western hemisphere, even before the US.

The US vice president Joe Biden visited us soon after. We co-sponsored UN resolutions on international terrorism.

Recently, Trinidad and Tobago, while pursuing the position of presidency of the UNGA, was one of 64 out of 193 which did not pay its mandatory annual contribution to the United Nations regular budget and working capital fund for 2019. Hopefully, this has been rectified given the UNC’s condemnation in parliament.

It is now clear that Rowley, Young, Al Rawi and Robinson-Regis are ill serving the needs of our country. They are essential catalysts in our inexorable decline to failed state status.

The time has reached for them to do the honorable thing, and consistent with the patriotic requirement given our depressing circumstances – immediately resign and call elections now.

Rodney Charles

Member of Parliament, Naparima





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